Albemarle denies annexation request for property off of City Lake Drive

Published 2:16 pm Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

The Albemarle City Council on Monday night voted against annexing roughly 85 acres on City Lake Drive after hearing flood-related concerns from several members of the public.

The specific location of the property, which is currently a vacant parcel, is south of City Lake Drive and north of Sapphire Lane. It is zoned County Residential Agriculture but the developer, Smith Douglas Homes, applied for the new zoning district to be City R-10, General Residential, if the property were to be annexed. The zoning change would offer additional single-family housing for city residents.

The city’s planning staff determined that if the property were to be subdivided, up to 297 single-family lots could be created. The developer would be responsible for extending water and sewer lines to the property.

The acres, which are owned by E. H. King Heirs, are close to Long Lake and Long Creek, and have already resulted in flooding, like many other areas of the city, during intense rain storms in recent years. Though the property is not located on any regulated floodplain or watershed, there are portions that have been identified as wetland areas, according to planning staff.

Upon hearing a short presentation from planning staff, along with a few comments from Jimmy Gaskins, division president at Smith Douglas Homes Charlotte, a public hearing was held.

Helen Simonson, a professional wetland scientist, stressed to council how the area is especially vulnerable to flooding whenever it rains.

Though Albemarle is working to establish a stormwater management plan, Simonson said she’s concerned about what the city will do “in the interim” to combat flooding issues.

“The decision to annex this property is not a decision just for the residents of the city of Albemarle or City Lake Drive,” she said, “it’s going to impact everybody downstream. Every single business, home and all the roads and infrastructure. It’s going to affect everything downstream.”

Paige Emerson, who grew up and still lives on City Lake Drive, said that flooding in the area has become worse since the land was cleared and trees cut down several years ago to make way for future development.

“I’m only led to believe that the disruption of the land, the 86 acres, had something to do with the fact that the water is flowing from Stanly Community…on down to us and down to my parents,” she said.

Realtor and residential appraiser Carla Weyrick told council that while she is not opposed to growth, she thinks it is too soon to rezone the City Lake Drive property into the city, especially since there are no existing stormwater ordinances in effect. She knows of property owners who have left the area due to persistent flooding, especially the heavy rainfall that occurred last May, when the National Weather Service reported that certain spots in the county received between 5 and 9 inches of rain.

“I don’t know where the water’s going to go,” she said. “I don’t know where it’s going to flow.”

After hearing citizens’ concerns, Gaskins said if the property was to get approved for development, local engineers his company is working with would help to mitigate any potential runoff.

If the property gets annexed, rezoned and ultimately developed, “we’re committed to work with the city and the neighboring landowners to improve the situation out there as best we can,” Gaskins told council.

After much discussion, Mayor Pro-Tem Martha Sue Hall made a motion to deny the ordinance to annex the property, which was seconded by councilman Dexter Townsend. The council approved the motion 6-1 with only councilman Chris Whitley opposing it.

The next scheduled meeting is set for Nov. 1 at 6:30 p.m.




About Chris Miller

Chris Miller has been with the SNAP since January 2019. He is a graduate of NC State and received his Master's in Journalism from the University of Maryland. He previously wrote for the Capital News Service in Annapolis, where many of his stories on immigration and culture were published in national papers via the AP wire.

email author More by Chris